GCO 1985-9

November 18, 1985


     A principal purpose of the rule of law is to protect the innocent.  Another is to provide a proper and just response to the conduct of the offender.

     Yet, far to often our criminal justice system ignores the interests of victims of crime and in resolving claims against young offenders fails to contact and work with those most familiar with youthful offenders and most interested in obtaining improved conduct from them.

     It has been the policy of this Court from its inception that the Justice Ombudsman will interview victims of the crime and parents and guardians of the offender in preparing a presentence report and arriving at a recommended sentence.

     Still, it has become apparent that this is not enough.  In some instances victims of crime are never notified of hearing dates or the resolution of the case.  Some parents and guardians ignore and stay away from the proceedings as though they have no interest either in the case or in the young offenders under their supervision.  Too often plea agreements are reached and criminal cases settled without any showing that the victim has been consulted, and without any indication that the parents or other responsible persons are assuming responsibility for the conduct and supervision of the youthful offender.

     This rule is adopted to enable victims of crimes to be informed of the progress of the case and to be heard concerning their own knowledge and perspective about the case; and to enhance the ability of our system of justice to work with those persons closest to youthful offenders.


     1.  Victims - The government shall be responsible for notifying any victim(s) of crimes charged of the hearing dates and that the victim should feel free to attend all hearings.  At the discretion of the trial court, hearings may be postponed in those instances where the victim has not been so notified in advance.

     The government shall also notify any victim(s) of the crime(s) charged of any proposed plea agreement, and obtain the comments of the victim, prior to tendering the agreement to the Court.  Absent a showing of good cause, the Court may reject any proposed plea agreement submitted without compliance with this requirement.

     2.  Parents, guardians or supervisors - In any case where a person accused is 22 years of age or younger, counsel for the defense is responsible for identifying the parents or other person(s) with primary supervisory responsibility for that accused, and assuring the presence of such person(s) at all hearings in the case.

     At the discretion of the trial court, any hearing after the initial appearance may be postponed for noncompliance with this requirement, and other sanctions may be applied.

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